Description of Designations
AIF® THE ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY®
The AIF designation signifies specialized knowledge of fiduciary responsibility and the ability to implement policies and procedures that meet a defined standard of care. The designation is the culmination of a rigorous training program, which includes a comprehensive, closed-book final examination under the supervision of a proctor, and agreement to abide by the Center’s Code of Ethics and Conduct Standards. On an ongoing basis, completion of continuing education and adherence to the Code of Ethics and Conduct Standards are required to maintain the AIF designation.
CFP® - THE CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® and federally registered CFP (with flame design) marks (collectively, the “CFP® marks”) are professional certification marks granted in the United States by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (“CFP Board”).
The CFP® certification is a voluntary certification; no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold CFP® certification. It is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education; (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice; and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients. Currently, more than 71,000 individuals have obtained CFP® certification in the United States.
To attain the right to use the CFP® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:
• Education – Earn a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university and complete CFP Board-approved coursework at a college or university through a CFP Board Registered Program. The coursework covers the financial planning subject areas CFP Board has determined are necessary for the competent and professional delivery of financial planning services, as well as a comprehensive financial plan development capstone course. A candidate may satisfy some of the coursework requirement through other qualifying credentials.
• Examination – Pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Examination. The examination is designed to assess an individual’s ability to integrate and apply a broad base of financial planning knowledge in the context of real- life financial planning situations.
• Experience – Complete 6,000 hours of professional experience related to the personal financial planning process, or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience that meets additional requirements.
• Ethics – Satisfy the Fitness Standards for Candidates for CFP® Certification and Former CFP® Professionals Seeking Reinstatement and agree to be bound by CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (“Code and Standards”), which sets forth the ethical and practice standards for CFP® professionals. Individuals who become certified must complete the following ongoing education and ethics requirements to remain certified and maintain the right to continue to use the CFP® Board Certification Marks:
• Ethics – Commit to complying with CFP Board’s Code and Standards. This includes a commitment to CFP Board, as part of the certification, to act as a fiduciary, and therefore, act in the best interests of the client, at all times when providing financial advice and financial planning. CFP Board may sanction a CFP® professional who does not abide by this commitment, but CFP Board does not guarantee a CFP® professional's services. A client who seeks a similar commitment should obtain a written engagement that includes a fiduciary obligation to the client.
• Continuing Education – Complete 30 hours of continuing education hours every two years to maintain competence, demonstrate specified levels of knowledge, skills, and abilities, and keep up with developments in financial planning. Two of the hours must address the Code and Standards.
The Standards prominently require that CFP® professionals provide financial planning services at a fiduciary standard of care. This means CFP® professionals must provide financial planning services in the best interests of their clients.
CFP® professionals who fail to comply with the above standards and requirements may be subject to CFP® Board’s enforcement process, which could result in suspension or permanent revocation of their CFP® certification.
CFA®- CHARTERED FINANCIAL ANALYST®
The CFA accreditation is a professional designation administered through the CFA institute to investment professionals. This designation is geared toward asset valuation and portfolio management, but the range of topics covered in the self-study curriculum also includes ethical and professional standards, financial theory, probability and statistics, microeconomics and macroeconomics, accounting and financial statement analysis, corporate finance, debt valuation, derivative analysis, and alternative investments. The CFA candidate must pass three exams, most commonly by taking one per year for three years. In addition to setting the CFA curriculum and administering the CFA exam, the CFA institute also publishes voluntary performance reporting standards for the investment industry. The CFA institute standards have practical importance because many institutional investors, such as corporate pension funds, require their asset managers to report performance in compliance with the standards. Until 2004, the CFA institute was known as the association for investment management and research, or AIMR.
CHFC®- CHARTERED FINANCIAL CONSULTANT®
This program prepares one to meet the advanced financial planning needs of individuals, professionals, and small business owners.
To receive the ChFC® designation, one must successfully complete all courses in his/her selected program, meet the three years of full‐time business experience requirement and ethics standards, and agree to comply with The American College Code of Ethics and Procedures. ChFC® is a nine‐course (7 required plus 2 elective courses), college‐level program. Each course involves an average of 50 hours of study.
Continuing education requirements: All ChFC® certificants who matriculated after June 30, 1989, are subject to the PACE Recertification Program. If one is a ChFC® who falls into any of the following specified categories, he/she is required to earn 30 hours of CE credit every two years:
Licensed insurance agent/broker/consultant
Licensed security representative/registered investment adviser
Financial consultant, attorney, accountant, employee benefits specialist, and any other individual who provides insurance, employee benefits, financial planning, or estate planning advice and counsel to the public.
CLU® - CHARTERED LIFE UNDERWRITER
A professional designation for individuals who wish to specialize in life insurance and estate planning. Individuals must complete five core courses and three elective courses, in addition to successfully passing eight 100-question, two-hour examinations in order to receive the designation. The required course titles include Fundamentals of Insurance Planning, Individual Life Insurance, Life Insurance Law, Fundamentals of Estate Planning and Planning for Business Owners and Professionals. Other course topics include financial planning, health insurance, income, taxation, group benefits, investments, and retirement planning.
RICP® - RETIREMENT INCOME CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL®
The RICP program consists of three courses: Retirement Income Process, Strategies and Solutions; Sources of Retirement Income; and Managing the Retirement Income Plan. It is designed for financial professionals who already have a broad-based financial planning credential such as Chartered Financial Consultant, Certified Financial Planner or Chartered Life Underwriter or whose businesses already emphasize retirement income planning. Applicants must have three-plus years of relevant work experience, complete the three online courses, and pass a 100-question exam. RICPs must adhere to a code of ethics and meet continuing education and reporting requirements.
The Series 65 exam is the NASAA Investment Advisers Law Examination, it is a North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) exam administered by FINRA. The exam consists of 130 scored questions. Candidates have 180 minutes to complete the exam. For a candidate to pass the Series 65 exam, he/she must correctly answer at least 94 of the 130 scored questions. For additional information about this exam, including the content outline, please visit the exams page on the NASAA website. SERIES 66 The Series 66 exam is the NASAA Uniform Combined State Law Examination, it is a North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) exam administered by FINRA. The exam consists of 100 scored questions. Candidates have 150 minutes to complete the exam. For a candidate to pass the Series 66 Exam, he/she must correctly answer at least 73 of the 100 scored questions. There is no prerequisite for the Series 66 examination. However, the Series 7 examination is a co-requisite to the Series 66 Examination.